EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — New York Islanders fourth-line center Casey Cizikas will be out on a week-to-week basis after suffering a lower-body injury, the team announced on Thursday.
The veteran took a shot off the left leg by Filip Hronek of the Vancouver Canucks just 3:44 into the first period of Tuesday night’s 5-2 loss. He went down the tunnel to be examined and temporarily returned, but left the game early in the second period after just two shifts.
Cizikas’ injury comes as the Islanders were attempting to put significant injury woes firmly in the rear-view mirror. They just got top defenseman Adam Pelech back from long-term injured reserve following a 20-game absence, though another vital blueliner, Ryan Pulock, is still on LTIR after suffering an injury on Dec. 7.
Fellow defensemen Scott Mayfield and Sebastian Aho had IR stints and have since returned while Robert Bortuzzo, one of the acquisitions to ease the onslaught of injuries, is also sidelined. Backup netminder Semyon Varlamov is also shelved on IR.
The 32-year-old Cizikas is the engine of the Islanders’ all-important fourth line and one of their most valuable penalty killers. In 39 games this season he posted five goals and six assists (11 points).
“He’s a big part of the group,” head coach Lane Lambert said. “His motor is always running so guys are going to have to replace him somehow. Certainly, we have the ability to do that…
“As we’ve done and continue to do with our defensemen and whoever else is up: Next man up mentality.”
In his absence, the Islanders have transformed their lines, moving Jean-Gabriel Pageau from third-line center to the fourth while first-line right-winger Mathew Barzal returns to center to take over third-line duties.